TORONTO — Watching an episode of Blue's Clues get made is as charmingly lo-fi as the show itself.
The set is nothing more than a green screen with a table draped in the same hues. Behind that table, new host Joshua Dela Cruz and Blue's original pal, Steve Burns, are deciding what Christmas tree decorations their various animated friends would like best.
As Dela Cruz mimics the sound of a rocket ship taking off with all the gusto of a toddler, the staff sitting behind rows of monitors in the studio coo and giggle. "That was so cute!" is whispered more than once.
It's October, about a month out from the Nov. 11 premiere of Blue's Clues & You!, the latest iteration of the beloved preschool show about a cartoon dog and her human pal solving puzzles. The new show is being shot in Toronto, and on this day in particular, Dela Cruz and Burns are shooting a future holiday episode.
The reboot is as much a homecoming for the show's stars and producers — as well as the millennials who watched as kids — as it is a fresh introduction for kids to a series that was a trailblazer in children's television.
When Blue's Clues first aired in 1996, it broke ground as the first show for preschoolers that broke the fourth wall and left space for viewers to respond to the host, starting with Burns. It ran until 2006, with Donovan Patton (known as "Joe") replacing Burns for the last four years.
Things will be a little different this time around, though. Blue and her pals are now computer-generated, Dela Cruz's trusty notebook is also a smartphone, and that iconic rugby shirt is now blue.
But much is also the same as the original, including the signature pauses for silence. As Dela Cruz and Burns act out their lines, there are long pauses. To an adult, it feels awkward, like a space that needs filling. But to a preschool audience, this is the magic that made Blue's Clues a hit.
"To me, the show looks so different. I see a lot of differences. But I think the thing that's the same as what we did is the silence and the fact that our show leans into silence," Burns told BuzzFeed News. "My favorite thing about Blue’s Clues is the amount of silence."
Burns and Patton will both be making appearances in the reboot — Burns is even writing and directing some episodes — and their involvement also meant they could take Dela Cruz under their wing. According to them, he's fitting right in.
"It just feels good to be able to support — that's how I see that role, as nostalgia guy. I'm Yoda. I'm shorter and green and old, and I'm here teaching Luke what to do," said Burns.
"I get to be Uncle Owen," Patton added. "I give him some blue milk and I ask where he's been and why he's late all the time."
Dela Cruz came to the show by way of Aladdin on Broadway, and it's a big dose of nostalgia for him too. He used to watch the show with his little sister when he was younger.
"It's very exciting, but I do pinch myself because I'm like, you just shared a screen with Donovan and Steve, who you were watching on the other side of the screen, and you just had dinner with them and it wasn't a thing, you were just the old friends getting back together, which is like the coolest thing ever," he said.
Traci Paige Johnson, one of the show's original creators, told BuzzFeed News all three men share a certain kind of personality that lets them carry the show.
The trick, Burns said, is remembering that you're not the star of the show — that kid watching is. It's up to them to tell the host how to solve Blue's clues, the host is just along for the ride.
"It's a buddy cop investigation show, and they're the buddy, and you never see them but that's the whole job," said Burns.
Burns and Johnson remember making that first episode back in the ’90s in a basement, then quietly waiting for the premiere.
Things are, of course, different this time.
With social media, there's been hype building around the reboot as Nickelodeon releases teasers. There's also that time Dela Cruz went viral on Twitter after someone found some shirtless Instagram photos and declared him a thirst trap.
"I woke up in the morning and looked at my phone, and like, my two sisters were just blowing up my phone," he said, laughing. "They were like, 'Have you seen this?!' and I clicked on the link and was like, Noooooo."
Social media has also shown that millennials who grew up with Blue, some of whom have children of their own, are excited to see their favorite characters again. After the show's premiere on Monday, many shared their joy on Twitter.
Still, there's also been those claiming a reboot is ruining their childhood, but Johnson is taking it all in stride.
"When you're taking a classic and rebooting it, there's so many pokers out there who won't like it, but the response has been phenomenal," she said. "Just when Nickelodeon leaked the little video of Josh calling Steve and Joe, and just the outpouring of these 20-year-olds ... it's just a beautiful feeling that we touched so many people and that everyone's so excited for it to come back. It's like comfort food for the soul."